France to work with PA on General Assembly resolution
The French Consul General in Jerusalem Frederic Desagneaux announced yesterday that his country was ready to work with Palestinian UN representatives to present a resolution to the General Assembly on the issue of a Palestinian state. Palestinian attempts at the Security Council failed last week.
Desagneaux made his comments after a meeting with Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee. He also said France would continue to supporting the Palestinian Authority with a transfer of ten million Euros by the end of this month.
Palestinian official news wire Wafa quoted Desagneaux calling Israel to transfer the $100 million in Palestinian tax revenues that Israel confiscated in response to Palestinian admission in UNESCO.
PLO executive committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo has called the decision a kind of “political and industrial war against the Palestinians.”
Desagneaux said France would keep working with its European partners to take responsibility towards Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands. France also suggested the Palestinian Authority apply for observer state status in the UN, the same status held by the Vatican.
Al-Ahmed thanked the French for voting for Palestinian membership in UNESCO, saying the vote held “important political weight for the Palestinian cause.”
Al-Ahmed also briefed Desagneaux on the ongoing efforts to implement the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement, and confirmed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would meet Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal next week.
Sheera Frenkel, Sydney Morning Herald
RAMALLAH: Palestinian officials have admitted their bid for statehood in the United Nations in all likelihood has failed.
A UN Security Council committee that has been considering the Palestinian application for recognition as a member state was expected to issue a final statement last night saying that it had been unable to muster majority support for the bid.
The committee released a draft statement earlier this week that made the same point.
Without the approval of the Security Council, the Palestinian application for UN membership cannot be considered by the 193-nation General Assembly, where it probably would have been approved. Palestinian officials said they still hoped the Security Council would hold a vote to ”name and shame” those who stood against them.
”We believed that those who do not think we deserve a state should say so publicly and not hide behind a technicality of not reaching a consensus,” a spokesman for the Palestinians, Xavier Abu Eid, said. Such a vote seemed unlikely, however.
The Palestinians needed at least nine nations on the Security Council to vote in favour of their membership in order to move the application to the General Assembly. The US had sworn to use its veto on the Security Council if it appeared the Palestinians had secured the necessary votes.
US diplomats managed to secure enough abstentions from the Security Council’s 15 members to deny the Palestinians nine votes, thus saving the US from having to veto.
”We wanted to force the US to use the veto because that would show the world what they truly are – a lackey of Israel that does their bidding. We all know that it was the US that blocked us,” said a Palestinian official involved in the bid, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
In September, Palestinians applied for full membership in the UN as a state that included the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
But the membership bid was vociferously opposed by the US and Israel, the US arguing granting the bid would undercut peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli officials said once statehood was granted, there would be little reason for the Palestinians to make concessions in other areas.
The Palestinian official said the Security Council was divided into three groups, with only the US directly opposing Palestinian membership. Russia, China, Brazil, India, Lebanon, South Africa, Gabon and Nigeria supported the Palestinian bid and Britain, Germany, France, Portugal and Colombia said they would abstain in any vote. Bosnia did not speak.
”We were just one country away from getting the nine we needed. But we could not convince them. We had hoped that France or Portugal would sway, or the UK, but they were being held in line by the United States,” the official said.
Palestinian officials said they would continue to seek ”alternative paths” to statehood, which could include recognition in international bodies such as the World Health Organisation.
Last month, Palestine was accepted as a full member of the UN’s cultural organisation, UNESCO, prompting the US to announce it was cutting off $US60 million in funds to the group. On Thursday, UNESCO said it had been forced to suspend all its spending programs until the end of the year because of the lack of funding.